EMMA FORSBERRY [GATES]
From: Devoted Empire Builders (Pioneers of St. George)
Emma Forsberry Gates, wife of Jacob Gates; dtr, of William and Sarah Ledham Forsberry b. July 27, 1830, Leicester, Eng. Came to St. George with husband. Their children: Jacob F., Franklin F., Wellington F. (Will), Jedediah Morgan, Emma Adelaide, William Milo, d.
This is extracted from Praise Ye the Lord MIA Festival 1958. Written and narrated by Crawford Gates.
SCENE 14 -- A HYMN ON MORMON DOCTRINE
"O My Father"
(This scene is optional)
Voice Choir: Leicester, England!
Narrator: Eighteen hundred and sixty in the home of William and Sarah Forsberry.
Voice Choir: A hymn has changed the life of the daughter, Emma....
Narrator: It was a hard scripture to her and to her parents when Jesus said:
Voice of Jesus: ...verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house,
(not to be seen) or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother...for my sake,
(Mark 10:29-30) and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now...and in the world to come eternal life.
Narrator: And like many before and many since, Emma Forsberry heard a testimony and had her heart touched by the message of a great Mormon Hymn . . . but found to her sorrow that to embrace the gospel also meant to forsake father and mother.
Voice Choir: The story is Emma's
The Hymn is "O My Father"
DRAMATIC SKETCH INSTRUCTIONS
The following instructions are for those that elect to present the dramatic sketch in full. Others may delete it altogether or adapt it to their capacities.
1. Emma Forsberry -- age 20
2. Mary Ann Forsberry -- age 12
3. Sarah Forsberry (Emma's mother) age 40
4. William Forsberry (Emma's father) age 40 or older
5. Elder Jacob, an LDS missionary from Utah
B. Costumes: Appropriate to 1860 England
C. Setting: May be very simple. A table with old fashioned lamp may be in the center. A rocking chair to one side (also old fashioned) may be used. Anything else to suggest England 1850, such as a picture, a curtain, a piece of furniture may also be used if available, but is not necessary.
D. Props: A little pair of sharp sicissors, to be carried in William Forsberry's pocket.
Scene Opening: It is morning in the Forsberry home in Leicester, England 1860. William Forsberry is a prosperous textile manufacturer. The home and deportment of family members bespeak refinement, culture and financial success. Mary Ann is reading a book in the living room and gently rocking in the chair. Emma enters the room.
Emma: How can you read and rock at the same time Mary Ann?
Mary Ann: It isn't too hard, if the book is good.
Emma: And what is this book that is so good?
Mary Ann: (very knowingly) It isn't about the Mormons.
Emma: (shocked) Mary Ann! What are you saying?
Mary Ann: Father is very angry that you went to a Mormon meeting last night.
Emma: How does he even know that I went? I haven't seen him yet this morning, and he had already gone to bed when I got home last night. Besides, I was taken there by Aunt Betsy.
Mary Ann: Aunt Betsy was here very early this morning and told Mama where she had taken you last night, and Mama told Father just a few minutes ago, and he was very angry. I heard him from the kitchen while I was reading right here.
Emma: I intended to tell him myself (hurt). He need not be angry with me, because he heard it from Aunt Betsy. You certainly have big ears to hear all this so early in the morning.
Mary Ann: (with an almost mocking sing-song) Early to bed and early to rise, makes one healthy, wealthy and ...
Emma: Wise! Beyond her years! I know.
(William Forsberry enters with stern look on his face and she says respectfully:) Good morning, Father.
William: (sternly) Good morning, Emma. Your mother tells me that you attended a Mormon meeting last evening with Aunt Betsy. Had I known such was your intent, I would have forbidden it.
Emma: You were still at your office at the factory when Aunt Betsy called to pick me up, Father. I didn't know what kind of a meeting it was myself until we arrived there. Aunt Betsy has taken me to many things in the past, and you had no objections.
William: To the art displays or the concerts, fine! But my daughter at a Mormon meeting. It's a disgrace.
Emma: Father, you don't understand. It wasn't what you think. The
Mormons are a fine people. . .
William: Fine are they? The papers have been full of their pollution of our land. They are a degenerate group of frontiersmen from the United States. Their missionaries are here in England for one purpose. They want more wives for their Mormon harems. I can't imagine that a girl of your upbringing, Emma, would find anything in common with such a group. And when Aunt Betsy comes again, you can be sure I'll inform her judgment in this case. More than that, I will tell her that such an episode must not be repeated.
Emma: But Father, it wasn't what you think it was. There was a wonderful, sweet, calm feeling. The people were humbly dressed and the missionaries who spoke had American accents, but there was something different about them. And the things they said and sang of were new and---
William: Emma, I don't wish to hear any more of it. I'm disturbed that you were even seen there. Make sure you don't go again.
Emma: But I was invited to the next meeting, and I would like to be able to accept and go--
William: (Looking her straight in the eyes) Emma Forsberry, you are the daughter of a respectable English family. I intend to maintain that respectability in this community. I don’t want my daughter seen in that kind of company. I forbid you to go to any more Mormon meetings, or to have anything whatsoever to do with their despicable kind. Is that clear?
Emma: (She does not answer immediately but bows her head in mixed emotions of desire to obey her father, and desire to follow the testimony which has already touched her heart.) I understand what you’ve said—(very quietly) they are not despicable. (She covers her face in humiliation and leave the room.)
Sarah: You were pretty severe on a girl of Emma’s quiet temperament, don’t you think, William?
William: In a case like this, you don’t think, you just re-act. She’s a good daughter, I don’t mean to hurt her, but I just feel strongly about it. I don’t want my daughter being seen at any more Mormon meetings…or worse, hearing what they say. Did you hear how she defended them? I don’t understand it. How could a girl of Emma’s background even have that reaction? I wish it hadn’t happened. I probably won’t get any work done at the factory today.
Sarah: (She takes him by the arm, calmly.) Your breakfast is ready, dear. Come in and sit down.
(A temporary BLACK-OUT—Light up on narrator)
Narrator: This moment marked the beginning of a heart-breaking period in Emma’s life. Believing that she had heard the word of God, she could not obey her father, even though she lived him. Yet not to obey him all but broke her heart.
A year later she decided she must go to Zion to be with the Saints. She dreaded both the anger and grief of her father and mother. At the same time she feared she would break down. So she walked out without a word. In the lane behind the house she met her little sister Mary Ann. Stooping to kiss her, the young woman said:
(During the last two sentences, lights open on Emma and Mary Ann who pantomime the previous two sentences as they are being spoken by narrator. Lights out on narrator.)
Emma: (Kneeling so as to be the same height as Mary Ann and after brushing away tears in both their eyes.) Mary Ann, you’re my sweet little sister and I’ll always love you with all my heart, as I do our Daddy and Mam. (She looks around to the house and garden) and our wonderful home—but Zion is calling me, Mary Ann.
Mary Ann: What is Zion, Emma?
Emma: Zion? Zion is the way I feel when I’m with the Saints. Zion is the look in a missionary’s eye when his face shines with joy and he says, “I know that God lives.” Zion is where the pure in heart dwell. Oh, Mary Ann, Zion is where the Lord has a Prophet who has told us where we came from and why we are here and where we are going. Zion is the sound of a song. Do you remember that first night, a year ago; I heard such a song in that first meeting. The missionary was dressed—strangely—and he didn’t speak well, like the English. But what he said was just for me. And then he sang a hymn. I’ll never forget the new wonderful words of it nor the way I felt when I heard them. Joy and undreamed of peace spread through my whole being and I know in my own heart that such ideas could only come because a prophet of God was walking on the earth. Zion is the message of such a song Mary Ann. And it calls me.
(During the last sentence or two the organ softly intones the final phrase of “O My Father,” at this point the lights go dim on the kneeling Emma as she embraces her little sister, and comes up also semi-dimly on the 1860 missionary, who may be in front of the Mixed Chorus. The missionary may be any age from 17 to 40. He sings with a plaintive voice the first verse of “O My Father” with organ accompaniment.)
Sings “Oh My Father,” page 139 Hymnbook.
Mixed Chorus: (After first verse—lights out on Mary Ann and Emma.)
Mixed Chorus: (Second verse of “O My Father” as written—third verse of “O My Father” may be also sung by Mixed Chorus or by a duet, consisting of a second Elder joining Elder Jacob, etc.)
(After completing the 3rd verse, the organ plays an interlude consisting of last phrase of the verse, and then the chorus hums a verse in the semi-darkness while the following scene is enacted. The timing of the humming and conclusion to the scene should be so both conclude at the same time.)
Narrator: Emma then went to Liverpool, England to join a group of Saints to come to America. Her father, William Forsberry, anguished beyond words, walked the streets of Leister all that night and followed her the next day to Liverpool. He overtook her just as she was about to go on board ship.
(Lights come up on Emma walking toward doorway. William Forsberry rushes up from the distance.)
William: Emma! Emma! Emma! (He reaches her and embraces her in great grief.) Emma, my darling daughter. Don’t leave us. I beg you to come back home with me. Come back, come back. I beg you, Emma. Don’t ruin all our lies and take our happiness. ( He breaks down with grief. Emma embraces her father and strokes his back gently and is overcome at the sight of her father’s grief. When she is able to control herself she says:)
Emma: My wonderful daddy! How I love you and mother and Mary Ann and our home. You can never understand why I am leaving. (Deeply moved she concedes.) All right father, I will go home with you, but there will come a day when I shall leave again; there can be no other way.
William: (William, unable to answer in his grief, takes a small pair of scissors from his pocket, cuts off a lock of Emma’s long black hair, then kissing her ever so tenderly, he turns slowly and walks away without looking back. Emma watches after him, looks the other way toward the ship, then back at her father, and then in a moment of her own grief drops her head and covers her face with her hands in a convulsive sob. Then as the concluding verse of the hymn is sung, she clears her eyes, and lifts her head once again to the song as it is finished.)
Elder Jacob and (Elder Jacob, as before is in half light. Everything else is
Mixed Chorus: dark except for a half-light on Emma also. Elder Jacob sings the first half of verse 4, while Mixed Chorus hums. The Mixed Chorus joins Elder Jacob in singing the text of the last half of verse. The song ends softly, and the lights on Elder Jacob and Emma slowly dim to darkness.)